I was going to publish this on my personal/multi-fandom Tumblr account, but I’ve decided since there are people on there discussing this probably more eloquently than I’m about to, I would post this here to get feed back from non-Tumblr users.
One of these days, I’ll learn when is the right time to quit a Pemberly Digital adaptation. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was amazing (and I can’t wait to get the DVD set in the mail) . I love the way it tackled and inter-weaved the various subplots through different v-log channels and on Lizzie’s channel. It was brilliantly and masterfully done. They kept the complexity of Pride and Prejudice in tact, especially the way it was all brought together on the main storyline v-log channel.
Lately however, their storytelling game has lessened significantly.
Coasting off the success of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries with Welcome to Sanditon, they tried to tell a storystory based off an incomplete story, but then relied almost too heavily on role-playing. That was a huge train wreck that was waiting to happen, given they were working with an unfinished work, but the role-playing made it the worst experience you could ask for if you just watched the videos. What was supposed to be a narrative unaffected by role play became something that heavily referenced role players interacting with characters in the story, which ended up bleeding into the dedicated “plot” videos. I’m not going to rehash every complaint I have about Welcome to Sanditon, because I’ve already dedicated a whole post to that here. I wrote that when there were only for episodes up, but nothing changed, and it only got worse. No point in being redundant.
When they announced that Emma would be the next book they adapted into a web series called “Emma Approved”, I rejoiced. I thought maybe things would improve with a clean slate. Oh was I wrong. There’s a clear line between adaptation and inspiration, and Emma Approved is showing more and more signs of being something more inspired by , and not something adapted from, the novel.
I have given the Pemberly Digital crew a lot of grace during this show, more than what I probably gave them for Welcome to Sanditon. That being said, I feel like my patience for them to get their act together is beginning to wear thin. I’m beginning to wonder why marriage is treated as such a bad thing with the writers. Marriage is not a bad thing, so I don’t understand why Pemberly Digital continually gives off vibes that marriage will ruin your life.
They nearly sank the Weston wedding just because of Frank Churchill wasn’t sending a wedding gift (really?). Yes it was upsetting for the couple in the books when he doesn’t show up to the wedding, but Miss Taylor didn’t end the engagement just because all Frank sent was a letter to congratulate them on their engagement. The Weston’s entire relationship was not dependent on Frank Churchill’s approval or presence. Frank Churchill’s whole thing in the novel is that he can’t leave his Aunt. Frank Churchill’s absence throughout Emma Approved is nothing that is of much concern to anyone, unless it actually means anything, which it doesn’t anymore.
Now they’re turning John Knightly and Isabelle’s (in the adaptation, her name is Izzy) marriage into an abusive one. Yes, John got so angry at Izzy wanting to go to Hawaii instead of to the place they go to every year, that he reduced his wife to tears and shaking just because she stood up to herself for once and recommended to John going somewhere else for a holiday vacation. John was never that cruel in the book. I have no idea why they’re doing this, and I don’t like this.
Mr. Bennet and Mrs. Bennet’s relationship was pretty spot on for the book, but that’s only because that marriage dynamic IS CANON. It’s written that way in the book. It is beyond me anymore what they are trying to do with Emma because they keep problematizing relationships that weren’t problematic in the book. At the rate we’re going in this new adaptation, the Elton’s are going to be the only couple with a stable, healthy relationship. And this makes me mad because Mrs. Elton is supposed to be the argument for Harriet being a superior partner to the one Elton picked for himself, and by the time the web series finally gets there, viewers are probably going to be glad Senator Elton picked someone else instead Emma and Harriet.